Immigrants Charged with Drug Crimes Shielded From Deportation
California has one of the most liberalized system of laws when it comes to illegal immigrants. That system is about to get more liberal if a new bill makes its way through the legislature.
There is currently a difference between federal and state law. While California allows for minor drug charges to be all but wiped away once a convicted party completes court-ordered treatment, federal law ensures that previous drug convictions are kept on the books. This can mean serious trouble for illegal and legal immigrants whose drug arrests can initiate deportation proceedings.
If the new bill passes, anyone charged with low-level narcotics crimes or drug possession could ask for treatment before even entering a plea. Once their approved course is completed successfully, no guilty plea would be required. If the person fails to complete the treatment, court proceedings begin. This would not apply to anyone with a criminal history involving serious felonies, violent felonies, or drug sales.
According to the bill’s creator, Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), the change makes it possible for illegal immigrants to choose counseling without worry of being deported.
Most than 500,000 people across the country were deported between 1997 and 2012 for drug offenses, according to Human Rights Watch.
California has some of the most lenient laws when it comes to drug crimes, and the legislature’s increasingly friendly stance toward immigrants makes supporters of the bill hopeful that it will pass.
Proponents of the bill have a completely different take. Those against the bill believe that it caters to a group of people who are not only committing crimes, but doing so while living in the country illegally. Says Jessica Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, “What is the public interest for the state of California to allow illegal alien drug offenders to walk away from prosecution and deportation?”
State prosecutors are quick to point out flaws with the bill. Should a person fail treatment, prosecutors will be tasked trying a person for crimes that were committed several months earlier. This can make locating witnesses and evidence problematic. While most are concerned with the plight of illegal immigrants who are trying to make their way in America, there is very little sympathy for those who choose to break the law.
If you have been charged with any type of drug crime, please contact our offices immediately. We are here to fight for your rights. We can review the facts of your case and advise you as to the best course of action. Call us now.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.